We then were shown the opening prologue of the film featuring Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna, washing up on shore next to a lighthouse in a big storm. Aquaman provides a voice over, quoting Jules Verne and explaining the strange story of how his mother met his father. Thomas Curry, played by Temuera Morrison finds Atlanna washed up on the rocks and brings her into the house.

When she awakes, she immediately goes into a defensive as if she was in the middle of a battle. She throws a spear through the television, which is making loud noises. In the end, she ends up sleeping on the couch, and there is this very sweet moment between her and Thomas’ dog — this is the first time she/s encountered such a creature.

She’s truly a fish out of water, and what better way to nail this home than to have Atlanna go over to the fish tank and grab and eat a goldfish out of the water. Curry comments that he was going to make her eggs, and questions where she’s from. Over tea, she tells him that she is the Queen of Atlantis, to which Thomas responds “Wow. I’m Tom, keeper of the lighthouse.”  This whole meet-cute sequence is not something you would have found in the Zack Sndyer DC films. On a more critical note, the de-aging visual effects on Kidman are not to the level of the Marvel films. But we were watching an unfinished work in progress cut, so that could change.

While I would have liked to see more of this relationship and bond grow, in true Wan style, the camera floats into a snow globe on the table transitioning into them on the top level of the lighthouse. She’s now holding a baby, a kid that she says will unite our worlds one day. They take a family photo. We are now progressing in time. He’s older, and she’s telling him the backstory of Atlantis almost like a mother recites a fairy tale to her child before bedtime.

This is when the action kicks in. A huge hole is blown in the wall and a Stormtrooper-like army storms in demanding to take her back to Atlantis by order of the king. What follows might be the most impressive thing I saw in this editing room: an incredible one-shot fight sequence with Atlanna kicking ass throughout the entire house. This action scene alone got me excited to see the finished film, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t very excited about this movie from the Comic Con footage.

Atlanna has to leave but vows to return when it’s safe, one day at sunrise. She asks Thomas to not let him forget her.

So when we were on set, I don’t remember exactly who we were talking to, but it was mentioned that like Nicole Kidman apparently wanted to work with you for a very long time.  
James Wan: Yeah.
When did that relationship start and how did it come to be?
James Wan:  I think it was right after Insidious 1.  We were working on a project together.  It would have been really cool if it actually happened.  It would have been like a throwback to like The Others for Nicole.  It was like a very classic, sort of haunted house thriller with Nicole in it.  But yeah, it was a project that we developed and unfortunately never could eventuate it, but ever since then, we’ve been wanting to work with each other.  And so when this film came along, I was like oh my God, Ma, Queen of Atlantis.  She was literally my first choice.  And so we went out to her and I kept my fingers crossed that she would say yes.  And she said yes, so I’m very happy, because she’s amazing in it.  Yeah.
Usually, directors say that they have their female character who kicks ass, but wow, she really kicked ass.
James Wan: She did it, with some help. But you talked about one shot before. That is one shot. Like if I show you guys the behind the scene of that, it is messy as heck. But it literally is we built the set with the ceiling removed.  And it literally was a spider-cam that just zip around the whole room just like following the action. Following Atlanna as she just takes a person out, takes another person out.  And obviously, we use visual effects to help clean a lot of things up and all that. But yeah, we did a lot of that in camera, practical stunt.
As one actual take?
James Wan:  It was yeah, it was one actual take, yes.
How many takes did it take to…?
James Wan: I think I did over 30 takes.  And it had to be split over two days, ’cause like on the first day we did it like my poor, amazing stunt actors got so tired ’cause we were doing like take after take.  And it’s just like hard to keep that energy up, right?  And so they were like, “Oh, we weren’t quite there yet.” Just missing out. There’ll be moments where we would get everything, and the last moment, it’d be like “Aw, just way off it.” Shit. Try it again. And so yeah, so we would come back a few days later, ’cause we have to rebuild the set back up. ‘Cause after a whole day of photography we beat the crap out of the set, so they had to, art department had to come in, dress it back up and then we did it again.  Yeah.
Did you use an earlier take or a later take?
James Wan: I can’t remember now. ‘Cause it’s usually, I did a similar thing in like in Death Sentence where I had like this one sort of parking garage shot that we shot like a whole bunch, like 15 takes and I went back and used like take three.
In this opening sequence, there’s a lot of heart in this.  And kind of a sweetness that is almost reminiscent of DC kind of kicking the whole thing off with Superman: The Movie in 1978. Was that a key influence on this?  And carrying forward maybe the legacy of that film a little bit?
James Wan: Yeah.  I mean, definitely.  I really think just having a superhero that is that has a sort of an uplifting message to it is really important.  Kirk and I are big fans of what the Donner version of Superman.  It’s very uplifting.  And very positive.  And I know we live in a much more cynical world today, but I still think we can bring a lot of that back and deep down I’m such a romantic and I love that just the very sort of sweet, romantic nature of how Mom and Dad both people are from such different worlds, but it didn’t matter. Like the love for each other bring them together and through that, through their love you get Arthur Curry, you get Aquaman, right? And so that it was important for me, because I wanted a superhero who’s and how he is shaped moving forward is very much shaped by the love that Mom and Dad had.  And it’s also what kind of makes him a bit bitter, because what happened to them. I think it was a very important thing to kind of like capture that spirit very early on in the opening sort of sequence of the movie that would kind of, like I said, that would become the sort of emotional backbone for the rest of the film.
I’m just curious, you mentioned this is the prologue, but in for example in the trailer, you have that shot of Little Arthur at the aquarium.  I’m just curious how you’re using flashbacks or if it’s entirely kind of linear.  
James Wan: Well so, where we stopped it, the camera pulls away from Dad at the dock with the young baby Arthur, we drop down and then we crane, and we follow the fish and we pan across and now we’re inside the aquarium scene
And that takes us back to the boy, the little boy. Like eight-year-old Arthur.  And there’s a kind of a fun, little moment there that you’ve seen in the trailer. I kind of wanna establish a lot of his sort of backstory but kind of in a short amount of time.  I think that’s important to again show who he was at one stage and how he was a very sort of optimistic young kid. Then what happened that kind of made him who he would eventually become, which is Jason Momoa. So the kind of more grumpy. So he starts the movie off kind of as the adult, kind of the grumpy version which is kind of where we last left him at the end of Justice League.  But then the journey that he kind of he goes through to become the king that he is supposed to be. That’s kind of fun just watching how his character kind of changes.  The other thing that I wanna kind of show a little bit is obviously how people move and talk in the world of Atlantis.  In the underwater world.  And really kind of show a bit of the relationship between Arthur Curry and his younger brother, King Orm, played by Patrick Wilson.  And their sort of like their antagonistic, antagonism that they have between with each other.  But also somewhat of a mutual respect for one another as well. And then kind of give you guys a look into just the underwater world and how they move, how they fight and that kind of stuff. I think it’s a very important because I get a lot of people asking me, how do, do people move like they swim in slow motion? Like no, that’s how we move underwater.  That’s not how they move. They specially adapt to underwater living. So yeah, check this out.

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